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Pentax Optio A10
The Pentax Optio A10 is pure eye-candy wrapped in its ultra-compact body with curved-out edges. It's jsut so cute that you would wat to get one of these just so you can carry it around with you, and pop it out whenever you feel the need. This is the camera you show your friends and watch them do the "So Cuuute" bit, while you flash that "Yeah, I know" smile. But how does the rest of it live up?
The Optio A10 is tiny at 89 x 55 x 23mm, and thanks to its miniscule Li-Ion battery, it weighs as little as 145gms. The overall metal body feels tight and secure enough to take a bit of man-handling, though I wouldn't personally recommend that.
The 2.5 inch LCD screen (232,000 pixels) takes up most of the back space along with a few navigational and functional buttons. While the LCD performs pretty well in most lighting conditions, it does go pretty much flat under direct sunlight. Since the camera doesn't have an alternate optical viewfinder, this can become pretty inconvenient, especially when you're out at a beach or at a picnic.
The buttons are all at easy to reach places and are adequately responsive too, which makes the camera convenient enough for single-handed operation. There really isn't much to complain about the Optio A10's build.
Feature-wise the Pentax Optio A10 is a fun-cam that kids and college students would especially love to have around. Besides the regular effects and scene modes, the camera features a frames mode with 3 frame overlays for your photos. You can add more frames to the camera from the wide selection available here. It's a fun feature that a lot of casual users will appreciate.
A photo shot using one of the default frame overlays
The more serious users may not be too happy with the lack of manual features in this cam. You can set the white balance manually, which worked great for accurately setting the colors according to the lighting condition in our tests. You can also manually adjust the ISO sensitivity setting, which ranges from ISO 50 to ISO 400.
Photo shot in standard flourescent lighting.
The Optio A10, takes pictures at a maximum size of 8 megapixels, with an additional support of HDTV aspect ratio (16x9) photos. It offers a humble 3X optical zoom, which is kind of ok for a low-end model, but seems inadequate on a mid-range model like this one. Image stabilization is a much valued addition that will help reduce hand jitters.
The camera also supports voice recording and video shooting with sound, but more on that later.
The Pentax Optio A10 produced some pretty good results in most external conditions. In it's default color setting it made the images look livelier by saturating the colors a bit, which is what most compact digital cameras do these days. Lets face it, people like bright happy colors! When it comes to vacation photos or photos taken for parties, family functions and basically any other casual event, the camera will do great.
But technically speaking, there are a few flaws I found with the image output. I mentioned above that the camera tends to saturate colors in its snapshots, but that doesn't work too well when shooting colors that are already bright. With colors like bright red, the camera over-saturated the colors to the extent that the details of the subject were cut down and were replaced by JPEG compression marks, when seen in full view.
The auto and the preset white balance settings were pretty much spot on and I didn't feel the need to manually correct the white balance under most circumstances. The images clicked in the lowest ISO setting (ISO 50), showed great noiseless quality. In fact, the camera showed very little noise in all ISO settings, except ISO 400.
The night-scene mode gave excellent results with minimal noise
The Optio A10 makes good use of whatever light is available, which is what makes it great for carrying around for just about any event. The shot above was taken at night using a tripod and the A10's "Night Scenery" scene mode, and as you can see, the results were pretty good. The sensor took full advantage of any, light that was available and didn't compromise on the details. Even the noise level was kept relatively low. It's good to know that the scene modes are well optimized to give a balance of performance and quality.
Another negative worth pointing out is that the shot-to-shot speed of the camera is pretty slow. I can still forgive that in a starter level point-and-click camera, but mid-range cameras should definitely be optimized to give you fast clicking speeds.
The great part about the Optio A10 is that it captures video in DivX format, which is pretty good, considering it captures at 640x480 resolution and 30FPS without occupying too much space. The quality of the video is great, it captures fast moving objects pretty much without jitters, and even the sound quality gives you nothing to complain about.
When shelving out Rs. 23,490 for a digital camera, you can normally expect more than an ultra-compact camera. But the Optio A10 offers some great features like 8 megapixel image size, excellent scene modes and friendly usability, which makes the camera price a bit more acceptable. It comes bundled with a carry case and a mini tripod, which is always useful. The bottomline is, that this is an excellent starter level camera as long as you have deep pockets.